Preston striker David Nugent says he is ready if needed for first-team duty after making his comeback from injury in midweek.
Nugent played the second half of Tuesday night’s 4-1 win at Chorley in the Lancashire Senior Cup at Victory Park.
While there is still work to do on his sharpness, he is confident of being able to contribute to PNE’s cause in the Championship.
It has been a frustrating first couple of months back at Deepdale for Nugent.
He arrived trying to regain full fitness after a summer knee operation.
The 34-year-old played in the pre-season friendly against Fleetwood at the end of July and came through that unscathed.
But just after the season had started, Nugent strained a calf muscle in a bounce game against Salford at the training ground.
It is that injury he has been recovering from and hopefully the run-out at Chorley was a big step in the right direction.
Nugent told the Lancashire Post: “I’ve been doing a lot of work with the physios and it was nice to get 45 minutes in the cup game.
“I felt good and it is now all about getting games and more minutes on the pitch.
“The more games I play, the fitter I will be. At my age you need games to get you going.
“I think I can come on and make an impression should the gaffer need me.
“That is where I am at the moment. If I started, I might only last 45 to 60 minutes.
“If he needs me to come on for half-an-hour to try and change the game, I’m certainly ready for that.
“The fitness guys have been at me for the last three weeks, I’ve been doing lots of running and game-specific stuff.
“In terms of training, I have had three days with the lads. It’s been tough because I have gone straight back into it – it’s not one where you can ease in because you’re training with the lads who have trained and played all season.
“I’ve had to keep up the pace with them but I managed to do that.”
Nugent came on for Jayden Stockley at half-time against Chorley, that a pre-planned substitution.
Also making a comeback was Andrew Hughes, Preston’s left-back having missed more than a month of action with a hamstring injury.
Hughes played for an hour before giving way to youth-team player Lewis Coulton.
Said Nugent: “We put a strong team out and we won the game well.
“Gino (Josh Ginnelly) got a hat-trick, Josh Harrop scored and they are pushing for the first team.
“Everyone wants to play at Birmingham on Saturday and against Manchester City next week. There is a really strong squad here.”